The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails Review
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails is an action JRPG, originally released for the PSP, in Japan, in 2012. It’s part of the Trails series, which has slowly seen localization into English over the last several years. This remaster was originally released on PS4 and PC in Japan in 2021, so we didn’t have to wait too long to get it in North America. Gameplay-wise, it’s much closer to Nihon Falcom’s Ys series, than its Trails series. It’s a very good action JRPG that should please fans of either of Nihon Falcom’s major franchises.
The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails’ storyline doesn’t take place during either of the major Trails series: Trails in the Sky or Trails of Cold Steel. It also isn’t a part of the Crossbell arc, which consists of Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure. It apparently takes place in a different timeline. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nihon Falcom labeled The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails as a Trails game, just to attract sales, as opposed to any actual narrative connection. Either way, from what I could tell, the game completely stands on its own. There might be some references I didn’t catch, but anyone interested in The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails can rest assured that they don’t have to play any other Trails games first.
A Different Kind of Trails Story
The game’s story isn’t a large, political tale, like other Trails games. It’s a more traditional JRPG story that begins as a mystery, and turns into a quest. The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails’ protagonist is a teenager named Nayuta, who lives on Remnant Isle with his sister Eartha, and best friend Cygna. Remnant Isle is a strange place, where star fragments fall from the sky. These are beautiful stones that seem to show glimpses of another world. Sometimes, ruins also fall from the sky, and usually land in the ocean, making sea travel difficult. People talk about the ocean being endless, and the star fragment’s world being called Lost Heaven. Nayuta’s parents were explorers who died searching for Lost Heaven.
The game’s plot begins with a massive tower ruin falling from the sky. Nayuta and Cygna investigate it, and find an unconscious fairy at the top. A black-cloaked wizard and masked swordsman appear out of a portal, and take back a gear from the unconscious fairy. When she wakes up, the fairy activates a portal on Remnant Isle, and Nayuta and Cygna follow her through it. They arrive in a garden outside of a tower Nayuta saw in a star fragment. The fairy tells them that there are no humans in her world, and it was created by a sleeping, human-looking woman in the garden. The wizard is gathering these important gears, and their loss is upsetting the world’s climate. Nayuta and Cygna agree to help the fairy retrieve them.
Gorgeous World Building
The plot has some really cool twists and revelations, but I would argue the world-building is even more interesting. This is complimented by The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails’ gorgeous visuals. Obviously this is a remaster of an older game, but I was constantly in shock at how visually appealing it was. The colors are rich, and every area is packed with detailed textures and mise en scène. Every character and object has interesting models and shapes. The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails looks like an exceptionally beautiful Level-5 PS2 game. Between the plot, the world building, and the gorgeous presentation, I was always interested to see more of the game.
The music matches the visuals perfectly. It’s traditional sounding JRPG fantasy music, with a whimsical tone that captures The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails’ island-hopping vibes. The voice acting is ok. It’s not horrible, but it’s not immersive either. It’s also sparse enough that the game doesn’t really need it. And, unfortunately, there are occasional spelling and grammar errors in the text. Character animations are basic, but cutscenes are well-directed. The fixed camera is exactly where I would want it 99% of the time, but occasionally it zooms in too much.
Action JRPG Combat
I loved exploring the world of The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails, but the meat of the game is in its combat. Circle is attack, X is jump, triangle is dodge roll, and square is a projectile attack. The projectile is a magic attack with limited ammo that can be charged by landing melee attacks. There are lots of different attacks that can be learned, and mapped to square. There are two choices of melee weapon: faster single-handed weapons, or stronger two-handed weapons. The player can chain attacks, which continue to grant bonuses until the player is hit, or too much time passes.
The game has 4 continents, with multiple areas. These are fairly straightforward sections, with minimal exploration. There are some hidden chests to discover. Every now and then an area has a boss fight at the end, which usually requires figuring out a hook to beating them. These boss fights are a highlight, and aren’t as simple as attack pattern memorization. I was surprised at how difficult some sections got. The first area is incredibly easy, then after that all bets are off. I would even go so far as to say it’s unfairly difficult, especially early on where there’s a disparity of healing items, and occasional swarms of enemies.
Lots of Repetitive Content
At the end of each area, stage evaluations are given. Eventually there’s an option to replay stages during different seasons, which offers different stage goals. Both of these aspects offer a lot of replayability. But this brings me to the main issue with The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails, which is it begins to feel repetitive after a few hours. The gameplay formula is a little basic, and doesn’t change much over time. I loved the first couple hours of the game, but found myself playing similar area after similar area. I didn’t want to take advantage of any of the replayability, because the core game felt a little too padded. There were also some small annoyances like controls not being able to be changed, and fast text advancement being mapped to a separate button that grated on me.
At the beginning, I loved The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails. It had a cozy JRPG prologue, gorgeous visuals, and an interesting narrative. These came together to create a world I was really excited to explore. I thoroughly enjoyed the combat at first, but it didn’t evolve much. And the dungeon areas got repetitive. I would say that maybe the main issue with the game is that it doesn’t evolve, and just repeats. I was very done with The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails by the end, but I was also very glad I got to play it.
***PS4 code provided by the publisher***
- Gorgeous visuals
- Interesting world build
- Driving narrative
- Repetitive areas
- Combat doesn’t evolve much
- Cheap difficulty